Friday, 15 April 2016

Miscellaneous bird photos - early 2016

Many bird photos are taken that don’t make it into my blog posts. These accumulate and during periods when I am unable to get out into the field or my efforts do not turn up photo situations that warrant a post on a specific subject or location, then I am tempted to do a post containing a selection of miscellaneous photos. Now is such a time. The photos in this post have accumulated since early January 2016. The captions provide brief comments on the subjects.


Please click on photos to enlarge.

It is quieter in the bush now the breeding season is over.

Superb Fairy-wren male (14/03/16) Picnic Point Bairnsdale - moulting back to brown non breeding winter plumage.
It is also now quieter in the bush because many of our summer migrant bush birds have headed north and the calls associated with their southern breeding season have long ceased.

Male Rufous Whistler (22/02/16) Fairy Dell Flora Reserve – one of our now departed summer migrant bush birds.
Male Gang-gang Cockatoo (8/01/16) Colquhoun Regional Park near Lakes Entrance.
I am sure I share a soft spot for this species with many bird lovers. They are more or less resident in our area, though also somewhat nomadic. Some are altitudinal migrants heading up into the alpine country for summer.

Is he sizing me up?
Southern Boobook Owl (13/01/16)
This is an adult bird flushed at the Oneonta Reserve, Lake Tyers Beach. There were two adults and two young just able to fly – clearly the young were raised on the reserve which has some old hollow bearing eucalypts. The rest of the family stayed well concealed in dense cover, so no photos.

Close up of those wonderful night adapted eyes and the soft breast plumage.
Red-necked Avocet (25/02/16) – photo of a small group out of several hundred birds on Jones Bay, Gippsland Lakes.
Large numbers of this species take refuge on the Gippsland Lakes during prolonged inland droughts – we have recorded over 1,300 in one flock on Jones Bay.

Black-tailed Godwits (25/02/16) (4 on right) and Bar-tailed Godwits (2 on left) on Jones Bay. Black-tails are uncommon in our area.
It is now mid April and many of our migrant shorebirds are currently departing for the northern hemisphere breeding season – adding to the general scarcity of birds and the challenge to find birds to photograph and blog posts to publish.

Three Black-tailed Godwits from the group above. Note their bills are straight whereas the Bar-tails have slightly up-curving bills.
Adult Australasian Grebe (28/02/16) in breeding plumage. This photo was taken on the water storage dam at Black Sallee Picnic area in alpine country off the Great Alpine Road between Omeo and Dinner Plain Ski Village.
Two of the three young belonging to the adult bird above.
Adult White-winged Chough – Omeo (29/02/16 – we got an extra days birding this year)
Choughs - being ground feeders - can be scruffy at times however the young are particularly unkempt.
Female Flame Robin (1/03/16)
While the females are often considered drab by comparison with the brightly coloured males, I liked the light in this photo and the bokeh (see Note 1) taken at Bentley Plain in alpine country on the Nunniong Plateau east of Swifts Creek.

Nankeen Kestrel at Mt Hotham Airport (2/03/16) – back light highlights the fanned tail which is missing one feather. The alulas are showing clearly – see Note 2 below.
Juvenile Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike on a fence (26/03/16) Forge Creek Water Reserve Eagle Point.
Pair of adult Wedge-tailed Eagles (26/03/16) perched in a tree at the Forge Creek Water Reserve near Eagle Point. There is a good chance this pair are the ones using a huge nest about 2 kilometres from where this photo was taken.
The pair took off and circled around to gain height before departing the area.
The wedge tail is very evident in both photos.
Crested Shrike-tit, Organ Pipes National Park north of Melbourne (8/04/16).


Copied from Wikipedia

In photography, bokeh (Originally /ˈbkɛ/,[1] /ˈbk/ BOH-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈbkə/ BOH-kə,[2] Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.[3][4][5] Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light".[6] Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—"good" and "bad" bokeh, respectively.[7] Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

Note 2:

Copied from Wikepedia
The alula, or bastard wing, (plural alulae) is a small projection on the anterior edge of the wing of modern birds and a few non-avian dinosaurs. The word is Latin and means "winglet"; it is the diminutive of ala, meaning "wing". The alula is the freely moving first digit, a bird's "thumb," and typically bears three to five small flight feathers, with the exact number depending on the species.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Australian Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is a well known and common Australian duck which has done well as a result of human development both in agricultural lands and in urban settings, especially around parklands, golf courses and so on where water is present in the form of farm dams or urban ponds.

Wood Duck are vegetarian grazers, mostly feeding by night on grassed areas and resting by day near water, particular on dam banks or in urban parks near water, where they are relatively visible to us. They can also be found on water and will upend in shallow water to graze on submerged aquatic vegetation. As a result of being common and familiar I suspect this duck is to some extent subconsciously down graded in value and their beauty overlooked.

In the wild, like all other ducks, Woodies are shy and hard to approach, however in urban settings they can become quite tame and accordingly very approachable. We camped in the foreshore caravan park at Mallacoota for a few days just before Easter where a party of seven Wood Ducks shared our camp area each day.

On our last day the antics of our fellow campers finally moved me to get the camera out and take a few photos of the Wood Ducks at close range from a camp chair by the van.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Male Australian Wood Duck

Typical sleeping position (of all ducks and many other bird species) standing on one leg with bill buried in the back feathers.
Young male Wood Duck still showing some light feathers about the head and around the eye

Sleeping/resting was interrupted by preening sessions.

Female Wood Duck

Female Wood Duck – note the white lines/stripes above and below the eye.

The Wood Duck is also called a Maned Duck or Goose due to their similar appearance to a small goose – however they are definitely ducks and not geese. This alternative name comes from the black mane on the nape of male Wood Ducks.

Another view of the mane which was erected when two males had a brief encounter which looked like a squabble or assertion of dominance perhaps.

Until this session with the Woodies I had not noticed the mane which is usually held in and therefore not apparent, especially at long range.